UK & World News

  • 15 January 2014, 19:49

Gang Members Convicted Of Child Rapes

Two men and two teenage boys have been found guilty of a series of rapes and serious sexual offences against five girls, including one as young as 12.

A third teenage boy was also found guilty of sexual activity with a child, but cleared of rape.

The abuse by the gang, of Czech, Slovak and Kurdish backgrounds, took place in Peterborough from April to December 2012.

Ringleader Zdeno Mirga, 18, was convicted of eight counts of rape and one count of inciting child prostitution by a jury at the Old Bailey.

The court heard he "shared around sexually" one of the victims because he wanted money to buy cannabis and vodka.

"He did this using the power he had over her at the time, or threatened her and sometimes he used violence against her," Prosecutor Angela Rafferty told the jury.

Mirga had sex with the girl in the toilets in a park, and she was also abused on a park table, the court heard.

Two boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were also convicted of various counts of rape and sexual assault.

Between them, Mirga and the two boys were convicted of 14 counts of rape.

Hassan Abdulla, 33, was found guilty of four counts of rape and three counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Mirga's brother Dusan, 20, and David Ziga, 19, and a teenage boy, were found not guilty of the charges against them.

Judge John Bevan QC instructed the jury that they could deliver majority verdicts on each of the counts.

Sentencing was adjourned until February 20.

Afterwards, Detective Superintendent Gary Ridgway said: "These girls were targeted simply because they were vulnerable. They were seen as easy targets and exploited by this group of teenage boys and young men who abused them for their own sexual gratification.

"The victims, who were as young as 12 years old, were subjected to horrific ordeals. But they have shown incredible strength throughout this process, in particular by giving evidence at court in order to bring these people to justice.

"We are committed to helping those girls pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. Our priority has always been, and remains, to safeguard young people.

"We will continue to work with the city council and other partner agencies to keep young people safe from harm."

Peterborough City Council said it had called for a serious case review.

Chief executive Gillian Beasley said: "Listening to the catalogue of crimes committed against these children has been absolutely devastating and we wish they could have been rescued sooner.

"But it was not until our social workers and the police gained the trust of the victims, so they felt able to tell us the full extent of what was happening, that the police were able to arrest the criminals who were responsible. We are pleased that we have seen justice done today."

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, added: "No child should experience what these girls have been through. After suffering an appalling ordeal they bravely gave evidence and relived their trauma all over again to help bring the boys and men who subjected them to such horrific abuse to justice.

"It is shocking, but sadly not surprising, that teenage boys were involved in this terrible on-going campaign of abuse. We must fight for young people to see this kind of behaviour for the horror it is. Peer-to-peer abuse is a growing concern and highlights the vital need to educate young people in schools about healthy and respectful relationships."

Mr Wanless added: "The national shortage of services to help prevent sexual abuse and give children the support they need to recover is a major concern and must be addressed."

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